ctnewsjunkie file photo
Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

HARTFORD, CT — While local officials initially celebrated passage of the two-year bipartisan budget, they may be not be as happy after learning it stranded millions of dollars and made towns responsible for about $20 million in elderly tax relief.

The recently signed state budget, according to a memo from the Office of Policy and Management, did not fund the elderly circuit breaker program. That means towns will be on the hook for about $20 million in tax relief for the elderly and disabled.

The state typically provides tax credits for the elderly and disabled whose annual incomes don’t exceed a certain limit. The amount of the credit may be up to $1,250 for married couples and $1,000 for single persons.

Municipalities will now be responsible for providing these property tax credits to these individuals without any assistance from the state, according to a Thursday memo from Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes.

Also, according to the Nov. 2 memo from Barnes, the separate renters’ rebate program will now be the responsibility of the towns.

Renters’ rebates can be up to $900 for married couples and $700 for single persons. The renters’ rebate amount is based on a graduated income scale and the amount of rent and utility payments. Payments are made in April and October.

The difference between the two programs is that the budget did allocate $13 million for the renters’ rebate program.

However, the problem is that OPM is “no longer authorized to administer the program and no longer has the authority to process payments for this purpose. This program is now a municipal responsibility.”

It essentially means $13 million is temporarily stranded.

Legislative leaders have been contemplating a date to return and modify language regarding the hospital tax, part of which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed.

When they return later this month to make the necessary changes to for the hospitals it’s anticipated they will change the language and release the $13 million to cities and towns.

In the meantime, local elected officials will be expected to respond to questions about the programs.

In his memo, Barnes said his office would be directing any calls about the program to municipalities.

On the bright side, the state will distribute $35 million under the Municipal Revenue Sharing program in the coming weeks.